Vancouver has proven to be a community-driven and environmentally-conscious city because of a few innovative minds who are leading the way. One such organization is FreeGeek Vancouver. This is a community-based project that helps to recycle used computers and help people who don’t have access to electronics become acquainted with them. One of the more interesting aspects of FreeGeek is the time and effort they have put into finding out how and where old computers are recycled and the drastic effects E-waste has on poor-nations who end up recycling toxic waste from electronics to make a living. According to one of the founders of the organization, because Canada has legislation to protect us from dealing with toxic waste, the remnants of our old computers are shipped to nations like China, where the junk is a wanted commodity because of the materials that can be extracted from it. Freegeekvancouver.org provides information on the devastating effects the toxic waste has on the people who end up dealing with it. According to Ifny Lachance, one of the founders of FreeGeek, eighty percent of computer hardware from North American “heads directly offshore to poorer countries, usually China. There, “recycling” generally consists of haphazard dumping, burning, and picking through by unprotected workers”. Many of the workers exposed to the toxic materials, such as cadmium, mercury, lead, and barium, can die within years of being exposed to them on a daily basis. Personally, I had no idea about this phenomenon and naively believed that computers were basically pieces of plastic strewn together whose fate was to be melted and made into other pieces of plastic. It takes resourceful and creative people to take on a problem this large, that everyone else is seemingly ignoring, and attempt to make a difference. Thus, Vancouver is home to moral people who desire to better the community and the world as has been proved in recent seminars.
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